Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts

27 July 2020

Film review: Queen of the Desert (2015) by Werner Herzog, *****


Gertrude Bell, a daughter of wealthy British parents, has no interest in the social life of the London elite. Balls, receptions and the British aristocracy bring her only boredom. She wants to study, learn and above all see the world.

Aspiring to have at least some kind of activity in her life, Gertrude decides to find freedom and move to be with her uncle, who occupies a high diplomatic position in Tehran. From Iran she moves on to Amman and Damascus, some of the main political centers in the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

So begins her lifelong adventure across the Arab world, a journey marked by danger, a passionate affair with a British officer, Henry Cadogan, and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence.

With an all-star cast, including Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Damien Lewis and James Franco, Queen of the Desert is the uplifting, inspiring and extraordinary true story of one woman who, against all odds, changed the course of history.


A gripping historical film on the life of an extraordinary woman who carved the life she wanted out of a hard world made for men.

We learn a lot about life in the latter part of the Turkish occupation of what is now Jordan and Iraq, areas where nomads roamed free without borders and ancient religions perpetuated irreconcilable conflicts.

Never seeking power she ended up making political decisions that are still relevant in the Middle East a century later. It would have been interesting if the movie had shown why she helped certain tribes rise to power through British help and not others. In the end, a successful but unhappy woman who spent most of her life alone.

12 November 2012

Recensione libro: In Pace e in Guerra (2004), di Enrico Mannucci, ****


I mezzi d'informazione propongono quotidianamente scenari di guerra, convenzionale e non, che richiedono l'utilizzo di forze speciali e quelle di più vasto impiego. Questo libro presenta un quadro completo dei reparti destinati a intervenire con varie funzioni nei diversi teatri di operazione che la cronaca propone. L'autore ne descrive la storia e l'evoluzione nel tempo, la struttura e l'organizzazione, i particolari compiti operativi nei quali ciascuno viene impiegato, l'addestramento, le armi, le attrezzature, oltre agli episodi più significativi o particolarmente drammatici in cui essi sono stati coinvolti, dalla Bosnia al Kosovo, fino a Nassiriya. Con un intervista a Francesco Cossiga.


Un libro essenziale per saperne qualcosa di più sui reparti speciali delle forze armate italiane. Narrato con passione ma senza eccitazione, con conoscenza dei dati, delle persone, dei fatti. Ottimi i racconti delle esperienze sul campo ma anche i riferimenti storici.

27 November 2009

Film review: Carnet d’un combattant kurde, by Stefano Savona, ****

Akif left Germany to join up with the PPK guerrilla fighters. His diary records the doubts, dreams and political discussions that the fighters share as they march through the mountains, and in the meetings where the women criticise male prejudices.

You can watch a trailer of the movie here.

Stefano Savona proposes a unique opportunity to look at the Kurdish fighter groups from inside. We see how they train, eat, sleep, study and organize their society on the run. While one may feel some sympathy for young idealists trying to gain a homeland for their nation, I was rather appalled at how the commanders both indoctrinate these fighthers and send them to a hopeless death against the Turkish army.

Buy it on, or in both English and French.

La versione italiana è disponibile qui.

18 November 2009

Film Review: Kurdish Yezidis (2009) by Florence Gavage, *****

According to ancient legend, in the beginning God created a white pearl and a bird. He then created seven angels including Melek Taus, the peacock angel whom he made the greatest of them all. To make land, He threw Lalish into the water which made it solid. And so the seven Angels went ashore at Lalish.  These people, the Yezidis, believe that they were the very first inhabitants on earth when the world was created. Yezidism is one of the most unusual and unknown religions on earth. It has survived during the centuries despite its status as an unrecognized religion under Islamic rule, and through many onslaughts against its Kurdish followers. 

This is a unique documentary on a little known people. The director has done thorough research and has traveled not only to Iraq to document the life of contemporary Yezidis, but also to various countries to meet Yezidi diaspora.

You can view Part 1/2 here:

You can vew Part 2/2 here:

14 November 2009

Film review: The Last Assyrians, by Robert Alaux, ****

For six years Robert Alaux researched and wrote this documentary. It is the first film that tells the complete history of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac people. History overlooks how they suffered from massacres, hunger and starvation during the1915 genocide; and the international community has not protected these people in their homeland after decades of mass exodus.

Despite their pain and suffering this indigenous Christian community, including the Diaspora, seek justice, peace, prosperity, security, and solidarity in the Middle East. From their ancient beginning in Mesopotamia to their present existence in the Middle East and around the world, the story of the last people to speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. I wish to thank Faito Doc Festival for having shown this movie to me and Robert Alaux for having presented it in Brussels.

This is a passionate accunt of the plight of an ancient people and a significant diaspora who can't really hope to have their own state but have been fighting to preserve their identity.

You can watch a trailer of this movie here. 

DVD available in English et en français. Contact the director here.